Best International Initiative / Best Learning Initiative at the Business Culture Awards 2022 – t-three, EDF and OPG
t-three were really excited to partner with EDF Energy and OPG (Ontario Power Generation) and in this blog, we discuss how we supported their leaders in the transition from operational experts to spokespeople for the nuclear industry as a whole...
Nuclear power is critical to the decarbonisation industry and transportation, contributing directly to UN Sustainable Development goals on energy, economic expansion, and climate action. As such, here at t-three we were really excited to partner with EDF Energy and OPG (Ontario Power Generation) as they support their leaders in the transition from operational experts to spokespeople for the nuclear industry as a whole.
These leaders face unprecedented change, and their role requires the ability to focus on the tiniest of detail and the desire to zoom out to 100 years in the future – all of this, within a safety-first culture. Leaders need to balance their technical know-how with their ability to motivate and engage.
As technology changes, plants come to the end of their active lifecycle, and the world of cleantech accelerates ever further, leaders will need the skills, behaviours, and confidence to lead, inspire, mentor, and coach for success. The WANO (World Association of Nuclear Operators) recognised this need and developed a set of attributes to help nuclear organisations benchmark their leaders and set clear expectations. EDF and OPG were also wanting to support this behavioural change shift within senior leadership populations, and WANO asked them to create an international development programme open to all nuclear organisations that they would endorse.
The aim of the t-three initiative was to create sustainable behaviour change and improve the emotional intelligence skills of department heads, directors and those considered high potential candidates for advancement to more senior roles within their organisation. WANO’s research was used in order to identify the key areas of focus to help create high trust and inclusive cultures.
It was important that the initiative catered to a wide variety of regional cultures operating nuclear power plants. We also appreciate that everyone learns differently, so we involved diverse learning styles. The initiative was delivered over 12 months initially, to help leaders truly start embedding their new behaviours. The initiative was named ‘Leading Nuclear’ and planned as a 12-month rolling programme.
The flagship programme needed to not only align to the WANO attributes but also involve cutting-edge thinking and new emerging topics. We designed the programme to enable the leaders to become more self-aware, and able to build trust (even when under pressure) right the way through to emotionally mature leaders who were willing to show their vulnerability. Ultimately, they needed to be the culture custodians of their own teams and organisations.
Taking a hybrid development approach we included virtual classrooms, alongside impact-focused site visits and in-person activities. Working alongside current industry mentors, participants gained international exposure to different cultures and nuclear stations. We raised their levels of self-awareness through a non-anonymous 360, psychometrics and intensive coaching. We then gave them the stretching task of participating in a 4-day simulation exercise, based on a cyber-attack. Their communication/interpersonal skills were closely observed, and a coach fed those observations back to the participant. This constant feedback loop was key to taking the leaders to exceptional performance.
Leadership Labs and group coaching focused on their learning and growth agility. We also included content and guest speakers on the topics of their role as senior leaders in the matters of mental health and well-being. The range of interventions was vast and included visiting sites in other countries. The value of the peer-to-peer coaching where they shared their experiences andknowledge was invaluable, and experiencing diversity of thought and building international relationships was key.
Every learning activity we designed had a clear call to action, which we were able to record and monitor. We had an unprecedented engagement with the activities and the leaders always went back to their own teams/organisations to play back what they had learnt.
EDF and OPG have high potential senior leaders attending this programme; As well as retaining these leaders, some have already been internally promoted, and numerous ROI examples have been recorded. Having people at this level role-modelling the right behaviours is key to their future success, and to improving the colleague experience. This programme has also allowed the most senior leaders to play the role of mentor to participants in their own and other organisations. This has given the mentors the chance to make connections internationally and gain valuable insight.
The project team has needed to be creative and to work in true partnership with colleagues and international networks. Often it would have been easier to send out some standardised leadership training, particularly with the breadth and complexity/international nature of the multiple organisations involved. The creative and innovative approach has been key to engaging leaders at this level – to hold a mirror up to themselves, understand their personal impact and then move to a more empathetic approach which engages others.
We can see the tangible benefits of this programme, but the resulting international relationships that we have seen forged between participants, mentors and participating organisations have been much better than we could have expected.